Fire-hit miniature railway to reopen for Easter thanks to community effort

Volunteers have come together to clear up damage caused to a miniature railway by a garden fire that spread out of control.

15 volunteers turned up to help with the clear up
15 volunteers turned up to help with the clear up

The fire broke out on March 25 and spread to Fletchers Garden Centre, Eccleshall, where Hilcote Valley Railway is based.

Railway manager Stu Harris put out a call for help after the fire and was left "gobsmacked" by the response of kind-hearted locals.

Stu looking at the damage caused by the blaze

Fifteen volunteers in all turned up to give up their time and work to get the station back up and running.

And thanks to their hard work, the station will be able to reopen for Easter, starting Saturday from 11am until 4pm.

Speaking at the time, Stu told the Express & Star he felt physically sick after he saw the extent of the damage.

But that feeling has been completed flipped just two weeks later thanks to the community effort.

Stu Harris was amazed at the work completed in just one day

Stu said: "We put out an appeal for volunteers on Friday and 15 turned up on the Saturday.

"I was gobsmacked, they all mucked in and helped clear the debris.

"A pensioner came up, she apologised for not being able to help physically but baked us a cake which we all tucked into.

"By half past four, I couldn’t believe what we had managed to do in just one day.

"One of the ex garden centre staff turned up with his tool bag and within a couple of hours he had all the burned roof down.

Stu concerned that the heat from the fire may have cause damage to the locomotives, but after testing, everything is in working order.

He added: "We are going to use the wacky shack as a temporary ticket office to tie us over.

"We are relived to be able to open on the holiday as they are usually really good.

"I cannot thank the local community enough, the way they pulled together."

Hilcote Valley Railway is run by volunteers and is totally self-funded, without riders, it cannot operate.

First opened in 1993, the line is a circular route, with a station which has a booking office and a signal box. The train takes passengers around a lake over a bridge and through a tunnel.

The fundraising page, called 'Hilcote Valley Railway Fire Damage Appeal' can be found at

It has currently raised almost £3,500 of a £10,000 target.

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